In my new book, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change, I highlight the problem of increasing income inequality that is plaguing the societies of almost every industrialized country in the world. Despite being the richest country in the world, the United States also suffers from one of the highest levels of income inequality in the world.
In order to make the U.S. system of capitalism truly sustainable, we must tackle this unhealthy concentration of wealth. The wealthiest one percent of Americans now have more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. The gap continues to widen as the top one percent receives almost 25 percent of annual U.S. income, up from 12 percent just 25 years ago.
While some inequality is inevitable and even desirable, the levels of income inequality have reached dangerous levels in the United States. Too much wealth concentrated in the hands of too few disrupts societal stability and corrupts the wealth-creating incentives of our capitalist system. Anger over income inequality has already sparked popular backlash in the form of Occupy Wall Street and other similar demonstrations. Indeed, the level of inequality in the U.S. is already worse than in Egypt or Tunisia, two nations rocked in recent years by popular uprisings that overthrew national governments during the Arab Spring. While the two situations are clearly different, addressing income hyper-inequality in the United States is crucial to making our system of capitalism more sustainable.
This new video is a terrific illustration of the problem: